tv Representative Devin Nunes Provides Russia Investigation Update CSPAN February 28, 2017 4:27am-5:08am EST
including the epa. then the first american american to serve in congress will talk about immigration and order control policy. was an undocumented immigrant when he first came to the united states. be sure to watch washington journal the getting live at 7:00 a.m. this morning. joined the discussion. >> representative devin nunes comments came as the committee considered whether to investigate the issue. this is 35 minutes. mr. nunes: i want to thank all of you for being here. as you-all know it's long been a priority of mine to be a very transparent with all of you and to make sure that i'm readily
available to answer any questions, especially when major issues arise as it relates to intelligence. and so kind of just watching what's occurred over the last few weeks, i wanted to make sure we formalize the process a little more. i know that last week i was here we had several press drums that a lot of you were attended. but i wanted to formalize it and make it more a press availability. i don't know if we'll do this every week or every other week. i'm just looking forward to taking your questions. with that i'll open it up. reporter: can you say categorically there were no contacts whatsoever between any officials affiliated with the russian government and the trump campaign? mr. nunes: not that i'm aware of. we have not seen any evidence from the trump campaign or any other that's communicated with the russian government. reporter: why would you agree to be -- talk to reporters at the behest of the white house
knowing you are looking into this? mr. nunes: that story was odd. if you ask me to contact the white house, and said, hey, could you set me up with somebody at d.o.d. or the intelligence agencies, i would say, sure. so it was kind of an odd story. reporter: is it compromised in any way? the fact that you have already -- mr. nunes: how is it compromised if i'm trying to be transparent with the press, and if the white house asks me to talk to a reporter, it was one reporter, i don't know if the white house asked me to talk to you, would you think that would be ok or not ok? reporter: what's your response to it? mr. nunes: well, what is your response to it? >> well, you are investigating this matter. the white house is urging you to knock down the authorities -- mr. nunes: that didn't happen.
that absolutely didn't happen. reporter: is there anything that you have learned in the course of this investigation that really conflicts with the public reporting? mr. nunes: if you look at what's happened, there's been major crimes have been committed. and what i'm concerned about is this -- no one is focusing on major leaks that have occurred here. and so, you know, right after the leak of the transcript that president trump had with the australian ambassador -- with the australian prime minister, i was in contact with the australian ambassador. i was also in contact with the white house. and the appropriate agencies. because we can't run a government like this. a government can't function with massive leaks at the highest level of our president talking to foreign leaders. so that i think is one of the focuses that you-all should be concerned about. because these are high level leaks. reporter: how big is the circle of individuals who have access
to those transcripts? mr. nunes: well, this is out of, i did not really realizes, but evidently the way i understand the process is that the last administration had it set up to go down to the state department and the i.c. and perhaps any other stakeholders with the appropriate people within the white house. we don't know how those got out, but clearly how is a foreign leader going to be able to talk to our president if they don't think that this is going to be leaked to the press? ] ross talking reporter: just to follow. you said no contacts with the russian government. as i'm sure are you aware, there are many businessmen that report back to the kremlin as part of their sickle of intelligence gathering. have you eliminated that possibility that the people that trump advisors were speaking with have connections to the russian government even if they are not officially working for the russian government? mr. nunes: we haven't eliminated anything. just to be clear.
the only thing i want to make sure we do is before we go after american citizens and subpoena them or bring them before the legislative branch of government, that it's not just because they appeared in a news story somewhere. reporter: you are still investigating them, communications between trump campaign advisors and russians known to u.s. intelligence erhaps and -- mr. nunes: i wouldn't limit it to trump only. or trump officials. i would say that it would be also any contacts with any political candidates, any where at any level, including in the united states or other foreign countries. reporter: are you saying there were clinton advisors speaking -- mr. nunes: no, no. let's not -- there would be no evidence of that. nor is there any evidence that i have been presented about trump advisors speaking to the russians. but we do know for a long time that the russians have been very interested in manipulating elections, manipulating the press. they are very good at propaganda. so that's what caused me a year ago to come out and criticize the intelligence agencies for the largest intelligence failure
since 9/11 because of the lack of good intelligence we were getting on putin's plans and intentions. so that's why i really appreciate the amount of press that showed up here today because we do need to have some scrutiny put on to the russian government. and we do need to know if there are any americans that are talking to the russians. and anybody connected to the russian government or agents. but at this time i want to be very careful that we can't just go on a witch-hunt against americans because they appear in a news story. >> the former n.s.a.?
mr. nunes: any american. reporter: are you referring to michael flynn? mr. nunes: specifically there was -- more important question on that there were three americans of which the only name i know is manifort. the other two i don't know. they appeared in a news story anti-questions that we had 10 days ago in that story broke for many of you who attended the different press availabilities that i had, the question was whether or not we were going to investigate those americans, and at this point here at the committee we still don't have any evidence of them talking to russia. reporter: do you have all the evidence at this point that you expect to receive or would you say you are still in the preliminary stages? mr. nunes: we have the scoping of our investigation finished. then we're going to move into receiving the evidence. as of right now the initial inquiries i have made to the appropriate agencies, don't have any evidence. reporter: the f.b.i. specifically told you that they have found no contact between any trump associates and russian officials?
mr. nunes: yeah, so i want to be -- we're not going -- the whole i.c. here. i'm not going to get specific to any one agency. but as of right now i don't have any evidence that would -- of any phone calls, that doesn't mean they don't exist. i don't have that. what i have been told is by many -- by many folks, is that there's nothing there. but we are absolutely looking into it and we want the information. but i just can't call in american citizens with no information. reporter: when you say there are no contacts, are you referring to direct contacts? mr. manna fort for instance, contact with ukrainians -- mr. nunes: i think specifically this would be contacts with any association whatsoever to anyone even within the realm of the russian intelligence apparatus. reporter: you just said many people have told you this. can you be more specific? i mean, who has told you that
there are? mr. nunes: no. i'm not going to get into specifically the conversations i had. i had with the executive branch and the appropriate agencies. but i will say that we long have had a very good process in the congress here where we have the gang of eight. when counterintelligence issues arise, they brief us on those counterintelligence issues. and we keep them because they oftentimes involve american citizens. and it's important that we keep it that way when those investigations are ongoing. but in this case as it relates to any campaign officials dealing with the russians, we don't have any evidence. reporter: you have been told there is nothing there. why are you specifically investigating whether there are any links between the campaign and russian officials? mr. nunes: unlike what's been reported, we have had a long ongoing investigation into russian activities.
i would preferred for that not to be talked about in public, you may remember for the last several years we have been concerned about russia cyberactivities and we remain concerned about those activities. since the election, we have broadened the scope of that investigation to include any involvement in this -- in our elections here. of course any ties that there might be to any government officials at any level. it's not just here in washington, but governors and others. if there is anything out there, any american citizens from political campaigns, coordinating with the russian government, we clearly would want to know that and investigate it. reporter: if you have you seen the transcripts of the phone calls with the russians? mr. nunes: no, but i have been briefed on them. it would be unusual, i think unprecedented for us to get transcripts that were illegally
leaked out and discussed for us to have those here in congress. i think we have to be very careful about the legislative branch of government getting fisa warranted, communications and that we start coming through private conversations american citizens are having. we have to be very careful where we go with this. i think what it appears to me like is that it seems to me there is a difference between russia's sanctions are to people like myself, which when i think russia sanctions i think of dealing with crimea, dealing with the invasion of ukraine by the russians and the sanctions that we have put in to place working with our allies and then what happened right at the time after christmas when president trump kicked russian diplomats out. i don't consider that to be sanctions.
[inaudible] mr. nunes: russia sanctions on the global stage. most of the meetings i have with foreign leaders, when we talk about russia sanctions that's what we're referring to. when president trump kicked out -- when president obama kicked out a few diplomats, number one in this way too late and number two was extremely weak and number three, the russian government did not even respond to it because it was so ridiculous. reporter: the white house asked you about talking to this reporter, did you know that they had also asked the senator to do the same thing? does it feel sort of a coordinated effort to push back? mr. nunes: if anything it was the opposite. so many of you -- many of you
who were around 10 days ago, you know that i took your questions as related to "the new york times" piece as it related to three americans, and whether or not we had information or not. so i had already talked to many of you about that several times. both in press scrums and on individual interviews. so by the time -- all it was was a white house communications person passing a number and name of a reporter over -- if i would talk to them. following up what i had already told all of you in the days before that. i'm not sure how you generate a press story out of that. i can't control what you guys write. reporter: are you saying the f.b.i. has not complied with you that evidence? or the f.b.i. told you there is no evidence? mr. nunes: i'm not going to get into which agencies. i think it's important.
but the intelligence agencies have not provided me or the committee any information about those three americans communicating with russians. reporter: but they have not told you that evidence does not exist. there is a difference there. mr. nunes: the way it sounds like to me is it's been looked into. and there is no evidence of anything there. obviously we'd like to know if there is. then it's serious. then it would be the intelligence agencies then misleading congress. which opens up another problem. reporter: why not just name a special prosecutor, take away the notion this could be tainted by politics. mr. nunes: we're the legislative branch of government. we're elected. i think the history of special prosecutors is mixed. at this point what are we going to appoint a special prosecutor to do exactly? to chase stories of american citizens that end up in newspaper articles? by now, look, at some point we have serious crimes have been committed, it would be something that we would examine. at this point we don't have that. the only serious crimes we have are leaks that have come out of our government to the press and
others. [inaudible] >> you had written letters to the fbi about the leak. can you give us an update? mr. nunes: i wrote the letter and obviously it's a classified letter. there's a classified version and unclassified version. we're expecting answers to that. i think we have some briefings this week and next week. and those briefings will continue. reporter: and is your committee committing resources to investigating these leaks? mr. nunes: well, as anything we can't -- it's very similar to us not having any evidence of who -- of these american citizens that were allegedly talking to russians. we also don't know exactly who would have known about general flynn. the good thing is about fisa and the way it works, there should be a record of who in the government knew about general
flynn talking to the russian ambassador. from there we should know who is in the realm of the possible. who we would need to talk to. >> can i ask you, who made the decision and was it appropriate? nunes: we don't know yet. but that's a very good question. and we're -- those are some of the -- i think that we should be able to find out. we should be able find out who within the executive branch knew about the initial conversations. and then who went to who to get michael flynn's name on masked. so that should be a relatively small number of people. reporter: is that evidence turned over to your committee or will it continued to be housed in the intelligence committee? mr. nunes: well, that's one of the contentious issues, how it will be housed. we will probably have some here, some will remain at the agency. reporter: do you know anyone at
the white house directing mr. flynn to discuss the issue, any issues with the russian ambassador? would anyone at the white house tell him to do that? mr. nunes: general flynn is an american war hero, put together one of the greatest military machines in our history, basically to eliminate al qaeda from iraq and he was the national security advisor designee. he was taking multiple calls a day from ambassadors, from foreign leaders and, look, i know this because the foreign leaders were contacting me trying to get in touch with the transition team and folks that wanted to meet with president trump or president-elect trump and vice president-elect pence. reporter: did president-elect trump at the time -- [inaudible] mr. nunes: i find it hard.
hard to believe because they were so busy. reporter: do you plan to coordinate with the senate side to have -- mr. nunes: we're separate bodies but we'll have a scoping document that should be approved. i think it's finished now. and then probably just have some brief outlines of what we'll be looking at. look, you guys know what we will be looking at. it's not rocket science. >> are you going to coordinate interviews with the senate so you don't muck up the record? nunes: i wouldn't -- i wouldn't rule it out. i wouldn't rule it out but we'll try to work with the senate where possible but i view this as two separate branches of the legislative branch of government. yes. reporter: is there a difference between the white house asking you to call a reporter and asking the f.b.i. to knock down a particular story? mr. nunes: first of all, the white house talking to -- having a reporter -- if a reporter asks the white house, hey, can you
get a hold of whatever member of congress, i don't know what the issue is. as it relates to the f.b.i., i believe what happened with the white house, as i understand it, in my limited conversations that i had, i just think it was an obvious question that was asked if there's no evidence was here can you talk about it? and the f.b.i. doesn't normally talk about leaks and whether or not they're investigating or other issues of who's under investigation. i think it's pretty standard for the f.b.i. not to comment on this. that's pretty unusual if they do comment. and so obviously when -- so i don't even know how true that story is. i mean, i would -- i would go to the white house and ask what conversations actually occurred but i don't think there are many. i think they were pretty simple. reporter: do you know how far you are in starting this investigation? and how many people are
involved? mr. nunes: just to make sure you understand what caused me to go out a year ago and say the biggest intelligence failure since 9/11 was our failure to understand putin's plans and intentions, what caused that was because we were constantly investigating the russia problems. so all we're doing is we're adding additional things that we're looking at which include the -- which will include the election issues. reporter: you say there's no evidence right now, russian contact with campaign officials. but you also say that you were just in the scope-gathering process of the investigation. mr. nunes: no. we're putting together a scope, working with bipartisan with my counterpart, mr. schiff, so we make sure that we're on the election as it relates to the election, but, look, we've always been very, very interested in what the russians are up to so this is basically part of an ongoing investigation that i was hopeful would never of been out in the press like it is.
end we areis a expanding the scope of the investigation to include that in terms of the election. some evidence we have. some evidence we do have. if you know american citizens that you know are talking to russian agencies, if you want to come to our committee and be a whistleblower yourself and bring meet those names, i would be interested in having them. [inaudible] mr. nunes: we will continue to take evidence and follow it where it leads. reporter: the obama administration wiretapping of campaign, dothe you think this was a regular process of listening in to what trump was doing? mr. nunes: well, as i was understand it, this was inadvertent collection to mr. flynn's name was unmasked. somebody very high up within the government had to do that or multiple people and we're very interested in figuring out who those people were because they
have questions to answer as to why -- what laws did they use to decide to unmask general flynn's name. reporter: to follow-up on that. if there was ongoing contact between the russians and the trump campaign, wouldn't other , withpop up inadvertently that knocked down the idea that the russians were in regular contact? mr. nunes: we don't know if there was regular contact with anybody in the trump campaign. the only one that was obvious was general flynn's contact with the directions antigua was doing what he was supposed to do, which was prepared the president-elect for office by getting as many leaders in front of him as possible. reporter: is it a major crime for leakers to discuss classified information relating to these communications and elsewhere, why is it not inappropriate for the white
house and you and senator burr to call reporters and give your own interpretation of, again, a continuing investigation that involves classified intelligence? isn't that a counterleak, as it were? you are still discussing the investigation. mr. nunes: i would never talk about classified information with any of you because that would be a crime. reporter: the message that was coming to you and others is we looked at the information, there's nothing there and that relates to an ongoing investigation, one. it's based on at its core classified information about contacts between -- mr. nunes: right. there's no release about classified information in that. i'm a little confused about your question. because either you -- i mean, the white house has been critical of a lot of you. so here you have the white house trying to communicate with many of you and trying to communicate with the congress what they're doing and now suddenly that's wrong. there's nothing wrong with that. if you look at the last
administration and i think if a lot of the democrats were being honest with you, they know that the relationship between the last white house and congress was extremely poor. what we're trying to do is have a very good working relationship with the executive branch of government at all levels and so i would anticipate that and hope we have more coordination with the white house and all the appropriate agencies and that we actually on one side we're a separate branch of government and we will conduct rigorous oversight which, look, i've been very clear. if i find out that reince priebus was talking to russians you can bet that reince primas will get a subpoena and he will appear before the congress. reporter: [inaudible]
has he appeared before your committee and if you asked for him to come? mr. nunes: we had discussions with the f.b.i. director and others within the f.b.i. and i do expect they will be briefing us again either this week or next. yes, sir. back there. [inaudible] mr. nunes: that's above my pay grade. i have no idea. i don't know what at this point the attorney general what would he recuse himself from? reporter: because of his relationship with the trump campaign that he would be an impartial -- mr. nunes: the way this works, if the f.b.i., if at some point they're conducting an investigation, they would have to go to the appropriate authorities to get a warrant, to do something, and as far as i know none of that has happened. reporter: speaking of reince do you have concerns
with him talking to the f.b.i., number two at the f.b.i., given that -- mr. nunes: look, i think you need to ask them. but the f.b.i. regularly briefs the branches of government. they brief the president, the vice president, the chief of staff, any personnel, at the same time they brief the senate and the white house. it would not be unusual for us to make requests of the f.b.i. or any intelligence agency. reporter: based on your briefings, has anything in the trump dossier been verified? mr. nunes: not that i know of. reporter: you say it's not about knocking down \[inaudible] mr. nunes: at that yeah, that's a good point. a lot you guys are the ones that were there. as a matter of fact, i think you were there when i think i spoke to you the morning that story breaking. i was very clear with all of you what i thought about that "new york times" story. it was way advance of them sending me one phone number. i don't know the problem of the
white house sending me a number of a press person for a call. isn't it the whole point of the press to be transparent? i mean, you guys normally want to talk to me. that's why i wanted to make this press availability today so it's more organized in the guys chasing me around at press scrums. reporter: did they give you any guidance? mr. nunes: no. it's this person wants to talk about "the new york times" story and i got the number and i called the reporter. reporter: on the flynn phone call, i am not sure i fully understand the distinction between the ukraine sanctions and the sanctions that president obama imposed? it wasn't just -- mr. nunes: let me describe it bluntly. reporter: individuals with the g.r.u., contractors that participated in the hacking and i guess the question is -- if general flynn telegraphed to the russian ambassador that those sanctions, whether or not you think they were serious enough or strong enough would be lifted
ould that not be -- mr. nunes: let me be very clear. so i think when i apply common sense to this, those were not sanctions. they were petty. they were not taken seriously by anybody who knows this. any conversation i had about russian sanctions it's always been about the russia sanctions dealing with the invasion of ukraine. reporter: you realize there were sanctions imposed. mr. nunes: you guys can call them that if you want but i wouldn't call them that. reporter: lawyers call them that. why do lawyers call them that? reporter: that's what they were called by the white house. the question is did general flynn in any way suggest to the russian ambassador he didn't have to worry that vladimir putin didn't have to worry about these sanctions because president trump would ease or lift them? mr. nunes: well, i think if the discussions occurred around ensuring there was no overreaction by the russian government so that the new administration could do like all the other previous
administrations who think they can work with putin which all three have been wrong they can -- if that's putin what general flynn did which was try to keep the lines of communications open and to make sure the russians didn't overreact and maybe have some reciprocal attacks on other embassies around the world, we should be thanking him and not going after him. reporter: it didn't sound like he was telling me russian ambassador, do not worry what the president just announced. we will do something different. mr. nunes: if that was said i don't know what the problem would be. that's exactly what he should be doing. so you want to -- a logan act guy -- look, it's ridiculous. the logan act is ridiculous. do you want to investigate on
the logan act? you guys know that's ridiculous. reporter: do you know about trump's tax returns? mr. nunes: what? reporter: subpoena trump's tax returns? mr. nunes: no we are not going to do that. ] didn't: [inaudible know about any investigation going on, is that saying -- mr. nunes: i don't think there's any evidence to go after anyone at that point. that would be up to the attorney general. reporter: [inaudible] mr. nunes: the f.b.i. should always be looking at leaks. i hope they are investigating. they shouldn't comment on them nor should they. reporter: one other thing. if you are looking -- is that rolled into the investigation? is that something separate? mr. nunes: it would be rolled into the investigation. any new questions? reporter: your democratic counterparts are not here today.
we understood they were not told about it. why should americans be confident this is not partisan? mr. nunes: me calling this i didn't want what we had last week where there were multiple i had toums and continue to repeat myself and then as i saw these stories roll out i looked at this and said this can't possibly be true because i was open, very transparent with all you. i was willing to go on the record right away about what happened or not what happened with "the new york times" story, what i knew at the time. i just wanted to make sure what i'm trying to do to bring to this is more transparency so we can have a normal engagement with all of you that's regularly scheduled and advanced for two reasons. one, it's all on the record so you know we are being transparent. two, i don't like to repeat myself all week on the same thing. reporter: mr. chairman, in the news a lot lately is north korea. one is your assessment of how
large a thread from north korea is to national security as ompared to russia? mr. nunes: well, the north korean regime is completely unhinged. they have long been unhinged. the closer they get to the ability to detonate a nuclear weapon but also deliver that nuclear weapon we have to take that seriously because for a long time this is not a regime that's -- that would by any stretch of the imagination you can have actual negotiations with. it also is i think one of the biggest travesties on the planet when people find out what's happening in north korea when you have 20 million people living like animals i think we should all be concerned about it like theody unhinged north korean dictator, we should all be concerned about and so should the chinese and the russians and others. reporter: how does it compare to russia?
mr. nunes: well, you know, the question will be whether or not can there be a new relationship with the russia government? this administration wants to attempt to try that. i am very skeptical of that but to be fair to them president obama tried, president bush tried and so did president clinton right when putin was put in office. reporter: if so what's the intensity? mr. nunes: i think the important thing to know -- as you know the house intelligence committee for many years has been very active on cyberthreats and if you look at -- i think one thing you should assume, the russians and chinese are very, very good at their cyberactivities so most of the time we are not going to even know they're there.
and they continue to expand their capabilities and we, of course, there's all sorts of anti-virus companies out there and people who are watching this threat but, look, everybody's communications are vulnerable. whether it's your email, phone calls, the grid, both the chinese and russians are actively increasing their cyberattack capabilities and we're trying to respond to that. >> at this point do you think you know everybody that fbi knows about intelligence gathering? mr. nunes: look, i always want to know more. i think they have been very upfront. they have been over to brief us and hopefully they'll continue to do that. reporter: do you think they probably no more than they shared with you at this point? mr. nunes: look, i think they hit the high points with us. i think we'd like to drill more. any more questions? reporter: you said this is an expansion of a year-long investigation. how would you categorize an expansion? is it the beginning part of the investigation or -- mr. nunes: i am not going to get into what we -- i'd prefer this never would have gotten out we were concerned about russian activity but it's out there now
and what we're doing is we're formalizing a process with my democratic counterpart so we have a nice scoping document on everything we're going to look at as it relates to the election, say, post maybe pre-election until now. >>'s you say you don't have evidence, early day. nunes: what i am trying to be careful -- i want to warn you. we can't have mccarthyism back in this case. we can't have the government -- the u.s. government or the congress, legislative branch of government chasing down american citizens, hauling them before the congress as if they're some secret russian agents and that's what i am concerned about here , that we don't go on some witch-hunt against some americans because they appear in a press story somewhere.
reporter: you say you don't want the initial story become public. how public will your findings be? mr. nunes: they will be public. likely what will happen is we will have an interim report of some kind that we'll put out and like-on-times occurs these investigations -- i'd like for the whole russian investigation to stop but i don't have -- as you already know from my previous comments, i don't have any faith that putin's going to negotiate in good faith with us and become an ally or become part of west. reporter: how much of that aspect have you shared with the president -- and you said previous administrations start out wanting to reset that relationship. mr. nunes: i don't know if i spoke to the president directly about it. clearly all the advisors around him have.
reporter: so once again you say the f.b.i. or the intelligence community have given you the high point of evidence. you say you are at the beginning stages of the investigation. mr. nunes: because there's investigations that the executive branch of government does and there's investigations that the legislative branch of government will do. reporter: so you're confident in your assertion that there is no evidence that these three people talked to russian agents even though you have not done your own investigation into it? talked to russian agents even mr. nunes: as of right now we have no evidence but we'll continue to ask for evidence and look for evidence not only the three americans named in the story but others that have contact with russian officials. one more? reporter: are you any closer to understanding, though, why the president is so -- of valdimir putin or what he says what we do here is the same they do in russia? mr. nunes: i am perplexed by
this just as when george w. bush looked into putin's eyes. if you look when president obama was caught in the hot mike saying he would have more flexibility after the election. i was perplexed by that. look, good presidents -- three presidents in a row tried to work with the russian government. i think it's a novel concept. i just don't think it's going to work but president trump has been very clear with the american people he's going to try to do that which would make him no different than the last three presidents. all right. guys, thank you very much. >> michael phelps testifies today on ways to improve and
strengthen the international anti-doping system. mr. phelps, the most decorated olympian of all time joins the ceo of the u.s. anti-doping agency at a house energy and commerce -- live coverage begins at 10:15 eastern on c-span3. you can listen live on the free c-span radio app. later, the senate intelligence committee holds a confirmation hearing for dan coats. at 2:00 eastern on c-span3. >> watch c-span as president donald trump delivers his first address to the joint session of congress. >> this congress is going to be the busiest commerce -- busiest congress we have had in decades. >> following, the democratic response and your reaction, live
tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span and c-span.org. listen will live -- listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> now, adam schiff speaks to reporters about the committee of the 2016n election. he says they have reached no conclusion. this is 35 minutes. [indiscernible] >> thank you all for coming.